INTEREST in Sunderland manager Jack Ross from the Scottish Football Association is growing after it emerged there is strong support from the game’s governing body north of the border for a younger managerial appointment.

The Northern Echo understands there is a feeling among some members of the SFA that it is time to go for a fresh approach after Alex McLeish’s unsuccessful spell and Gordon Strachan before that.

McLeish’s second period in charge of his country came to an end last Thursday after a meeting of the board and the ball has started to roll in search of his successor.

There are a number of names under consideration for the post, experienced and youthful, but Sunderland’s promising manager has some strong support from within the SFA.

Mike Mulraney, who is on the SFA board, handed Ross his first managerial post four years ago at Alloa and has often predicted he is destined for greater things.

And Ross is one of those new generation bosses who will be discussed in greater detail in the weeks ahead, having successfully guided St Mirren from bottom of the Scottish Championship and to promotion to the Premier League in 18 months.

That achievement was responsible for attracting the interest of Sunderland, where he still hopes to celebrate promotion at the first attempt next month despite losing control of the race for an automatic place.

It is understood the SFA’s chief executive Ian Maxwell has shared his recommendations to establish the cost and availability of a number of potential targets. Ross still has a year to run on the deal he signed last summer at the Stadium of Light.

There are other contenders who are more popular with fans, particularly Kilmarnock’s Steve Clarke, as well as former Sunderland target Derek McInnes who is still at Aberdeen and former Manchester United boss David Moyes.

There has also been support for Scotland Under-21s head coach Scott Gemmill, while the SFA’s performance director Malky Mackay, who had one game in charge before McLeish returned, is an alternative.

The SFA will be keeping an eye on what happens at Sunderland over the next few weeks knowing the outcome of the Wearside club’s promotion push could influence the chances of securing Ross if they go down that road.

There is a decent chance the SFA will look at an interim appointment from within, like they did the last time with Mackay, to guide them through games with Cyprus and Belgium.  Ross is an ambitious manager who has always spoken of the desire to take Sunderland back to where he feels they belong during his time in charge. The finances potentially on offer at the SFA are unlikely to be much more – or less – than what he already earns at Sunderland.

What the former Hartlepool defender is determined to focus on is guiding the Black Cats to the Championship at the first attempt, having set out that target when he took over last summer.

Sunderland suffered heartache at Peterborough United on Saturday when Matt Godden scored a stoppage-time equaliser to hand the initiative for a top two spot to Barnsley and Portsmouth.  Pompey, sitting third and knowing they will go up if they win their remaining games including this weekend, have already beaten Sunderland twice this season – once in the Checkatrade Trophy final – and Ross must ensure his team reacts positively to the London Road draw.

But he does not think he will have to do much, believing his players are of the right mindset to still finish off the job.  Asked if his players will need lifting, he said: “No, because of how the games this season have been against them and the crowd that is going to be in the stadium, because of the significance of the game for both teams.

“Barnsley won again, Portsmouth don’t have any margin for error either really as well, I think that will suit us, it will be a good game.

“We have to make sure we win every game, starting on Saturday. The last thing you want to do is somebody else slip up and you haven’t taken advantage of it.

“The players will be fine, they will be OK, there was no magic words you can say straight after the game to take away, the soreness, but they have got to be resilient and strong enough to deal with that disappointment and go again.”

Sunderland know that if they beat Portsmouth on Saturday in front of their own fans then they will still need to follow that up with victories at Fleetwood on Tuesday and then at Southend on the final day. Even then, though, Barnsley would still go up if they win their remaining two matches.

Sunderland’s supporters’ association have named Aiden McGeady, who has proven himself to be one of the most creative players in League One, as the club's overall player of the year, while Luke O’Nien was given the young player of the year award.